Magazine article Arts & Activities

Take an Artistic Spin with Pinwheels

Magazine article Arts & Activities

Take an Artistic Spin with Pinwheels

Article excerpt

This project is one of my favorites and students love it too! I typically do this with my seventh-graders, but it is adaptable to almost any grade level.

A great start for the semester, this project provides a good dose of art history, and a variety of media and techniques. Oh, and teaches students how to clean up and store things properly.

Five artists are introduced, each with a different art medium and technique. While I've experimented with a number of artists, my "go-to" artists are Vincent van Gogh, Georgia O'Keeffe, Piet Mondrian, Jackson Pollock and Bridget Riley.

To begin, I give each student a piece of 12" x 12" white tag board, explaining that they will use both sides of the tag board, so they need to keep it nice and clean. Using a ruler, they draw a line from corner to corner on one side of the paper, creating an "x" (and four equilateral triangles). Each of the triangles will be filled with the style of one artist.

The back of the tag board is reserved for Pollock. When we assemble the pinwheel, the artist's dynamic style visually ties everything together.

Over several days I introduce each artist, demonstrate the technique and medium, and give students time to practice before they apply the final art to their 12" x 12" square. I also give students time to compare and contrast the artists.

The final artist is always Jackson Pollock--a class favorite. Students first paint the back of their tag board a solid color they've mixed (in my class you're required to mix a color--not use. paint straight out of the bottle).

Meanwhile, I set up a splatter paint area with a selection of watered-down acrylic paints in baby-food jars. Students gently tape the composition to a piece of clean newspaper before beginning to splatter paint on the back of the paper, taking care to keep the front paint-free.

I cut and drill a wooden dowel for each student, which they paint to coordinate with their pinwheel. …

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